Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/256

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of the body. In Massachusetts it is believed that to be efficacious the skin must be that of a black cat. In one country town in eastern Massachusetts the same remedy is recommended for hives. A reputed cure for asthma, still extant in Boston, is to wear a muskrat-skin, the hair to come next the chest of the patient. A correspondent from central New York knows of inflammation of the bowels having been cured by applying the flesh side of the pelt of a freshly killed lamb. In parts of Ohio it is thought that chilblains may be quickly relieved by wrapping the feet in a "warm, bloody rabbit-skin" (hare-skin). The last-named remedy calls to mind the method of curing ruddiness of the face by anointing it overnight with hare's blood, cited in that incomparable medley of wisdom and folly, Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. The nausea attendant on the painful disease called milk-sickness, which is so dreaded in many of the newly settled parts of the Western States, may, it is said, be allayed by drinking hot water into which has been dropped a little freshly drawn blood of a chicken. Canadian lumbermen, when fortunate enough to shoot a deer, often wrap themselves at night in its skin in order to keep off witches.

Pliny, in his Natural History, states that the bite of a serpent may be cured by immediately applying to the wound a living mouse, split asunder, or the warm flesh stripped from the bones of a cock. We find a possible survival of these ancient Roman remedies in the application of the freshly cut surface of a stunned domestic fowl to a snake-bite. The poison is supposed to be absorbed by the quickly circulating blood of the chicken and finally to kill it. If it die before most of the poison is thought to have been absorbed, another is at once to be applied. This mode of treatment is reported from Michigan, but I have reason to believe that in a more or less modified form it prevails rather generally where poisonous snakes are found. In northern Ohio they say that a living fowl cut open and applied while bleeding constitutes another cure for "shingles." In the town of Woburn, Mass., it is not snake-poisoning or shingles, but scarlet fever and diphtheria, that may be cured by applying to the chest the palpitating body of a hen that has been stunned and immediately cut open. This last remedy recalls the account of the last illness of Philip of Burgundy (Philip the Good), in Charles Reade's admirable mosaic of mediƦval life, The Cloister and the Hearth. You remember that in the latter part of the fifteenth century the duke lay sick at Bruges with the disease now known as diphtheria. "Ho! this is grave. Flay me an ape incontinent and clap him to the duke's breast," says the doctor. But no ape was to be had. "Then Doctor Remedy grew impatient and bade flay a dog. l A dog is next best to an ape, only it must be a dog all of one color.' So they